Diary of a Provincial Lady (Prion Humour Classics)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Diary of a Provincial Lady (The Provincial Lady #1)

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,674 ratings  ·  233 reviews
When Diary of a Provincial Lady was first published in 1933, critics on both sides of the Atlantic greeted it with enthusiasm. This charming, delightful and extremely funny book was named by booksellers in England the o.p. novel most deserving of republication.
Unknown Binding, 201 pages
Published 1999 by Not Avail (first published 1930)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Diary of a Provincial Lady, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Diary of a Provincial Lady

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier84, Charing Cross Road by Helene HanffThe Enchanted April by Elizabeth von ArnimThe House of Mirth by Edith WhartonThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Favorite Virago Modern Classics
13th out of 170 books — 78 voters
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo IshiguroThe House at Riverton by Kate MortonBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn WaughA Room with a View by E.M. ForsterHowards End by E.M. Forster
Downton Abbey-esque Books
125th out of 420 books — 748 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jan 18, 2013 Caroline rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Kirsty
Written in 1930, this is a delightful romp through the joys and tribulations of a being an upper crust housewife in the country.

This book was very much based on the real life of its author. She had the right credentials for writing this story. As a teenager she was a debutante, then she married a colonel and had two children. She was also made president of her local Women’s Institute, and held this position for life. (This organisation is the ultimate custodian of country life in the UK.) On to...more
Delafield's marvelous Provincial Lady books are a series of journals written by a middle-class wife and mother, who is full of wit and literary aspirations but who is also tied down to her domestic duties; although she eventually achieves literary success, she still has to pull off a tricky balancing act between her professional and personal lives. A parade of notable characters, often based on Delafield's friends and family, inhabit the pages of the books: the diarist's husband Robert, stolid a...more
I must admit that I have have been shy of meeting the Provincial Lady for such a long time.

You see she was so popular, I read so much praise for her wit and her charm, that I became the bookish equivilent of the shy child, who was so often tongue-tied and could never quite keep up with the leading lights.

I resisted a green Virago Modern Classics omnibus containg this book and its three sequels; I resisted a lovely anniversary edition clothed by Cath Kidson; but when a new Persephone edition appe...more
This is the kind of book that makes me wish I lived in Cornwall in 1933 with a couple of servants, a garden, the occasional charity sale to organize and friends to invite me to places I generally can't afford. Granted there are bills to pay with money I don't have (or only have for 5 seconds as it is already spent) and snooty upper class ladies to contend with but I think that - with my new best friend, the Provincial Lady (PL) by my side - we could manage very well indeed, thank you.

I found th...more
It's not that so much happens, it's that you get to hear this woman's inner thoughts - and they are fun-nee. Witty and funny. I usually detest diary-type novels, but this one is in a league of its own. And I learned something, too - life was hard before tissues were invented. One of the Provincial Lady's recurrent worries is that they are going to or have already run out of handkerchiefs - can you imagine? During cold season? Witha coupla kids in the house? Yikes! Thank.Heavens.For.Kleenex. Anyw...more
British wit is good stuff. Comments about life are insightful, poignant and witty. Style of writing proves challenge as desire to learn more about character weighs heavily. (Query: do women such as this still exist, and if so, can I have a cup of tea with them on a frequent basis?)

See myself re-reading this and giving it higher ranking in future. Immediately post-read still feel a bit unsatisfied but perhaps that is sign of good author?
Having treated myself to the new Persephone edition of Diary of a Provincial Lady I decided to re-read it right away. One of the things that sold me on the new edition (already owning an old Virago copy of the complete Provincial lady) was the lovely endpaper – which will remain one of my favourites.

Our eponymous Provincial Lady – is an upper middle class wife and mother – who records in her journal the daily vicissitudes of life. Married to the often taciturn Robert, mother to Robin and Vicky,...more
Supremely amusing account of a genteel English housewife between the wars. Her scattered, chatty, and often wry observations on her husband (perpetually hidden behind The Times), two children, nanny (“Mademoiselle”) and the line-up of village ladies provide most of the humor. Same sort of style as Bridget Jones’s Diary, only without the vulgarity and with a far more sympathetic heroine.
Feb 02, 2009 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but if you are married with kids, it may seem funnier and ring a little more true
Shelves: best-of-2008
I adored this darkly witty take on British life in the country. Very Mapp and Lucia, in the best way, with the added delight of the diarist's asides on motherhood. I'm sorry it took me so long to find it but I think now was the perfect time to read it.

Also, sorry that there's no picture of the pretty edition I have - a Virago reprint with a Cath Kidston cover.
This book was fabulous. I love anything set in interwar-era England and the humor is exactly to my taste.

"Find myself indulging in rather melodramatic fantasy of Bentley crashing into enormous motor-bus and being splintered to atoms. Permit chauffeur to escape unharmed, but fate of Lady B. left uncertain, owing to ineradicable impression of earliest childhood to the effect that It is Wicked to wish for the Death of Another. Do not consider, however, that severe injuries, with possible disfigure...more
Questo libro secondo me si presta benissimo a incomprensioni e aspettative deluse. Si tratta di un diario (fittizio, ma comunque formalmente un diario) di una lady di campagna inglese negli anni Trenta. La protagonista, sempre in bolletta, tenta disperatamente di soddisfare le pretese del silenzioso marito Robert, della perennemente insoddisfatta cuoca, della umorale istitutrice francese, dei due figli, nonchè di tutta una serie di persone che non vivono con lei ma pretendono da lei che sappia c...more
I have been looking forward to reading this book forever since it's supposed to be one of the greatest comedies of manners - but I was pretty disappointed.

I honestly liked the main character (a 1930s Becky Bloomwood, just a little stricter with herself) and I liked her style (very sharp-tongued wit with lots of allusions to literature). But the Diary of a Provincial Lady is really more like a diary than like a novel: It consist of little anecdotes, there's no big overarc narrative arc, little c...more
It takes a truly talented mind to take the day to day life of a country house wife and convert it into a journal of light satire and human observation. It is a little wonder why The Diary..was a bestseller when it was published in 1933 and why the reprints are still so popular.
To be honest, when I got through the first fifty pages or so, I wasn’t entirely impressed – it did seem like a 30s chick lit. Breezy, funny and a little bitchy. Its only when I started paying attention to the little notes...more
Such a funny book in that dry British way. This was originally published in the 1930's - the story is written in the form of a diary of a middle-class housewife living in the English countryside. Strangely enough, this sort of reminded me of Bridget Jones' Diary (written 60 years earlier), although this one is about a married woman, not a single woman, and she doesn't really talk about her weight or her drinking...OK so maybe it's not very much like Bridget Jones (except they are both diaries of...more
Austen to Zafón
Fictional diary of an upper-middle class lady living in a small English village between the wars, trying to keep up appearances on a too-small budget; manage her moody servants; and deal with high-spirited children, a flighty French governess, and a cold, bored husband. It doesn't sound like it should be funny, but it is, in that dry, deprecating, witty English way. As one reviewer said, "For its time, it's quite subversive, with the Provincial Lady chafing against the restrictions placed on her...more
Sol  Gonzalez
Con este libro me di cuenta que tengo una debilidad por los libros epistolares.

- Werther
- El libro de cabecera
- Lady Susan

Sé que he leído varios, sin embargo dos de mis libros favoritos son epistolares y cuando comencé a leer éste fue amor. De repente me veía a mí misma escribiendo igualmente un diario donde redactar mis devaneos cotidianos... y es que... hacía poco había comenzado un proyecto de hacerlo (un diario, no los devaneos). Así fue mas sencillo enamorarme.

Lo siguiente fue leer y leer.
Delafield's unnamed narrator relates the happenings of her quiet life in this classic, published in 1931. A husband (Robert), and two children keep her life busy, although she feels that her means are straitened, despite having four servants (!). An occasional financial windfall is spent and respent practically before it arrives. The social life in the country revolves around the obnoxious, wealthy Lady B. and the importune Vicar's Wife, who wants our heroine to help with various charitable func...more
This author is like Jane Austen's great grand niece, and Bridget Jones' grandmother.
It's a wry satirical look at the life of a middle class wife and mother in 1930's Britain. In some ways it's a really different world- she has servants to help with her busy life, her son's at boarding school and her daughter has a French governess. The conversations she relates from dinner parties, etc are so different- it seems so much more cultured and civilized. Yet the character types seem so familiar.

I'm a...more
This book is not my cup of tea. I do like British humor, but I only laughed once 3/4 of the way through. I just don't relate to the feelings expressed (or under-expressed) by the main character. Really, let's whine about our servants, mentally roll our eyes at everyone we speak to, overdraw our accounts because we have to have a dress in order to impress people we don't like, etc., etc. It reminded me of other books I just couldn't get through: Bridget Jones's Diary, Confessions of a Shopaholic....more
(Shared read with Donald. We found the book for free on the Australian Project Gutenberg, I think... There were some formatting issues and the occasional typo, but nothing too terrible. I may have had to convert it to mobi-format, so that might have created some of the problems.)

We found the Provincial Lady's observations quite amusing and will be sure to check out her other books. Again and again, we had to laugh and shake our heads over how some things never change. (And then there were a few...more
Drivvle. Really boring. I'm sure at the time, 1930s, it was an oh so sharp satire, but the humor hasn't aged well and its just a lot of talk about mishaps with the servants,misplacing tulip bulbs and oh gosh dinner with Lady B. My mum got me this for my birthday and it continues the unbroken run of all the books she's got me being terrible. Shes a ferociously well read woman, so it baffles me at what she picks for me.
In her introduction Rachel Johnson says that this book is "a proper English treat, like a cream tea after a long, muddy country walk" and I was inclined to agree with her until we got to the part about the kittens... and then it all gets rather annoying... pawning her ring only to then go to buy a new hat... persuading the bank manager to give her an overdraft only to go and spend the money on new clothes... spending a week in London looking for a new maid and having trouble getting one because...more
Evelyn Porter
Dull. Not what I expected after reading all the other reviews. Found the woman to be extrememly superficial. Pawning jewelry to spend money for unnecessary purchases, just to keep up appearances, is NOT what I would consider funny. The husband is bored, the children are raised by others, the servants feel over worked and the neighbors gossip. All of which I find very sad and uninteresting.
lucy by the sea
Don't get it. Boring diary of a boring rich lady. She moans about spending money on hats and hair. She bitches about her servants. She lets her husband treat her like crap. She carries on boring and meaningless and fakey friendships. Maybe it picks up and she redeems herself? I can't be bothered to finish it and find out.
Erica Anderson
A classic of Brit lit--the daily reflections of a 1930s Devon gentlewoman on the perennial problems of retaining the servants, pleasing the vicar's wife, and deciding when to plant the tulip bulbs. Insights into country life and its absurdities remind me of Austen. Delightful.
Forrest Taylor
The Diary of a Provincial Lady is a collection of the fictionalized memoirs of E. M. Delafield that were published in serialized format in Time and Tide. They are largely comedic and are based on the struggles and foibles of being an upper-class wife and mother in Britain. Delafield focuses on everything from the foibles of children (she gives her own fictitious names, as she does with many characters in the book,) to dealing with social standing and class (exemplified by the opening sequence wi...more
Tabitha Mason
I laughed out loud quite a few times at this typically English lady's observations regarding her family and household. I think I enjoyed this even more than I would have if I had not read The Anglo Files last summer.
Very funny faux-diary of a genteel housewife in 1930’s rural England . Self-deprecating, witty, and very concerned with superficialities, it’s a fun read. It’s not dated so much as it is a historical document.
Free to read on Project Gutenberg: http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0800...

Delightful! If Bridget Jones were a wife and mother in the 1930s. A likeable, unglamorous, ordinary character with whom many can empathize. The tone of delivery is perfect: exasperation at husband and anxiety over the domestic country life's many little vexations, without ever getting too woe-is-me that we would find her tiresome. So many keen insights into human behavior / society, that if persona were on Twitter today,...more
I have read this entire book in the voice of Hyacinth Bucket (Keeping Up Appearances). It couldn't be helped, really. It is a straight up a diary of "first world problems" but because it is set so long ago and in a place so very far away, it mingled with that bit of nostalgia for "the good old English countryside" which made those problems actually charming and enchanting. I had a smile on my face the entire read, and my laughter bounced constantly between snarky and sincere. All in all the book...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • High Rising (Barsetshire #1)
  • Queen Lucia (Lucia, #1)
  • Mariana
  • Someone at a Distance
  • Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942
  • Miss Ranskill Comes Home
  • Nightingale Wood
  • Augustus Carp, Esq. By Himself Being The Autobiography Of A Really Good Man
  • A Far Cry from Kensington
  • At Mrs Lippincote's
  • Less Than Angels
  • Mrs. Tim Christie
  • Greenery Street
  • One Fine Day
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture (9 June 1890 – 2 December 1943), commonly known as E. M. Delafield, was a prolific English author who is best-known for her largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which took the form of a journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s, and its sequels in which the Provincial La...more
More about E.M. Delafield...
The Provincial Lady in London The Provincial Lady in America The Diary of a Provincial Lady (4 volumes) The Provincial Lady in Wartime Consequences

Share This Book

“She is never alone when she has Her Books. Books, to her, are Friends. Give her Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Meredith or Hardy, and she is Lost - lost in a world of her own. She sleeps so little that most of her nights are spent reading.” 19 likes
“Mucho antes de que estuviéramos a medio camino, y sabedora de que nunca llegaría a la roca, ya confiaba en que la segunda esposa de Robert fuera buena con los niños. La vizcondesa, que nadaba tranquilamente, me preguntó si estaba bien. "Oh, sí", contesté, y acto seguido me hundí.
(Duda: ¿Castigo divino?)”
More quotes…